ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA
1984, Warner Bros., 229 min, Dir: Sergio Leone

Childhood friends Robert De Niro and James Woods rise to power as New York gangsters during the glory years of Prohibition, only to lose their souls in the process. Leone’s final masterpiece features Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams, Tuesday Weld, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Danny Aiello and William Forsythe, as well as the film debut of Jennifer Connelly.


MEAN STREETS
1973, Warner Brothers, 110 min, Dir: Martin Scorsese

Director Martin Scorsese’s shattering, insider’s look at small-time hoods in Little Italy stars Harvey Keitel as a guilt-obsessed Catholic trying to make good, and Robert De Niro as Keitel’s terminal screw-up of a cousin, Johnny Boy. Most of MEAN STREETS was shot - believe it or not - in Los Angeles (only exteriors were filmed in New York). It quickly became Scorsese’s calling card as a director, and a stunning prequel to the awesome TAXI DRIVER.


THE GODFATHER PART II
1974, Paramount, 200 min, USA, Dir: Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola expands upon and deepens the themes of THE GODFATHER with this ambitious sequel. The film follows mob chieftain Al Pacino as he ruthlessly consolidates power in the Las Vegas gambling world of the late 1950s, while simultaneously flashing back to father Robert De Niro’s brutal induction into the Mafia in 1900s Sicily and New York. Most of the cast returned from the first film, with superb help from Gaston Moschin, Leopoldo Trieste and Lee Strasberg as Jewish crime boss Hyman Roth. Coppola’s parallel structure allows him to compare and contrast two American eras and consider the political and cultural changes of the 20th century, an approach that makes THE GODFATHER PART II an epic work of art as well as one of the most entertaining crime movies ever made.


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